A class action lawsuit is a lawsuit in which many plaintiffs with small claims combine their claims to file one large lawsuit against a defendant. The class action is a legal tool that is extremely beneficial for plaintiffs with small claims who have been cheated out of money or goods as a result of a company’s illegal practices.
The costs of filing a lawsuit are often too high to make it worthwhile for a plaintiff to file a claim for a few hundred, or even a few thousand dollars. Nevertheless, that amount can be significant to plaintiffs, and by cheating many people out of small sums of money, companies can illegally gain a huge profit. The opportunity to file a class action lawsuit gives plaintiffs the chance to pursue their claims and to prevent the defendant from similarly taking advantage of people in the same manner in the future.
But plaintiffs have to fit certain requirements in order for a court judge to grant class certification. The first requirement is numerosity, which means the class must be large enough to warrant pursuing the lawsuit as a class action. There is no specified number of plaintiffs that must be eligible to join a class in order to justify class certification, but in general, classes of less than 20 are not usually found sufficiently large to fulfill the numerosity requirement, while classes of 40 or more stand a pretty good chance of receiving class certification, provided the other requirements are met.
The second requirement is commonality, which means the plaintiffs must be able to prove the alleged violation was the result of a standard practice, and not a fluke that only affected a small percentage of the population.
The commonality requirement is at the heart of a dispute over whether or not to certify a class of plaintiffs against Microsoft. The lawsuit was initially filed in 2012 alleging Microsoft’s Xbox 360 videogame system had a defect that caused it to scratch game discs and make them unplayable. Microsoft says the defect only affected about 0.4% of its Xbox consoles, which the company claims makes the class too small to justify pursuing the complaint as a class action.
Microsoft has also said the scratches were not due to a defect in the gaming system, but resulted from misuse by the customers themselves.
Microsoft sold more than 80 million Xbox 360s. That means 0.4% is 320,000, which is more than large enough to fulfill the numerosity requirement, but not substantial enough to fulfill the commonality requirement. A federal judge dismissed the class action lawsuit in 2012 on the grounds it did not meet the commonality requirement for a class action, but Seth B., the lead plaintiff, is still fighting for class certification.
Seth appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which initially refused to hear the case. Rather than giving up, Seth responded by dismissing his own claims as an individual so that the claims of the rest of the class can move forward.
If the Supreme Court agrees to hear the case, their decision will settle the matter of class certification for this lawsuit (and possibly the ultimate decision for the lawsuit as a whole) for good. If they decide to certify the class, the lawsuit will return to the courts to be tried as a class action. If they dismiss the lawsuit, each plaintiff will have to pursue their claims individually.
Our Gurnee, Illinois consumer rights private law firm handles individual and class action gift card, data breach, privacy rights, deceptive advertising, predatory lending, unfair debt collection, lemon law and other consumer fraud cases that government agencies and public interest law firms such as the Illinois Attorney General may not pursue. Class action lawsuits our law firm has been involved in or spear-headed have led to substantial awards totalling over a million dollars to organizations including the National Association of Consumer Advocates, the National Consumer Law Center, and local law school consumer programs. The Chicago consumer lawyers at Lubin Austermuehle are proud of our achievements in assisting national and local consumer rights organizations obtain the funds needed to ensure that consumers are protected and informed of their rights. By standing up to consumer fraud and consumer rip-offs, and in the right case filing consumer protection lawsuits and class-actions you too can help ensure that other consumers’ rights are protected from consumer rip-offs and unscrupulous or dishonest practices.
Our Hawthorn Woods and Sylvan Lake consumer attorneys provide assistance in data breach, privacy violation, fair debt collection, consumer fraud and consumer rights cases including in Illinois and throughout the country. You can click here to see a description of the some of the many individual and class-action consumer cases our Chicago consumer lawyers have handled. A video of our lawsuit which helped ensure more fan friendly security at Wrigley Field can be found here. You can contact one of our Libertyville and Forest Lake consumer protection, gift card and data breach attorneys who can assist in consumer fraud, consumer rip-off, lemon law, unfair debt collection, predatory lending, wage claims, unpaid overtime and other consumer, or consumer class action cases by filling out the contact form at the side of this blog or by clicking here. You can also call our toll free number at 630-333-0333.